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I wonder why we need en in "on en vient"

this is an example

La couleur, c'est par définition un paramètre qui fait peur à l'homme quand on en vient à parler de look, de style personnel et d'élégance.

Here are some other examples

Ces cas sont tellement nombreux qu'on en vient à croire qu'ils sont presque routiniers.

On en vient à se demander où le ministre était pendant cette séance d'information.

more here

I wonder if this happens with others verbs too. I would like to know about other examples where en is combined with other verbs like in the case above.

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I think it's related to causality :

"J'en perds mon latin" = I'm confused/disturbed  "Je perds mon latin" doesn't implie any exterior element, it' just me and my confusion, but "J'en perds mon latin" means that because of something refereed as "en" I'm confused. That something must be the subject of the previous phrase...

"Il en arrive à douter"  This one, like "On en vient" is a little bit different because the form without "en" doesn't exist.

"Il en arrive à douter" -> "Il doute", "On en vient à se demander" -> "On se demande". The reason is the same, the form with "en" indicate that the verb/the action is the consequence of something mentioned earlier.

[Cause] "On en vient à se demander" [complement]   =  "On se demande  [complement] "car" [Cause]

Other examples :

" Nous en avons déjà parlé"

"J'en ai marre" "j'en ai assez"

I hope this can help ^^

Thank you very much. I begin to understand now. In Spanish we have "por ello" expressing causality and also "de ello" to refer to something previously mentioned, like in  "hablamos de ello": we talked about it. I knew "en"is used in French to refer to something mentioned before but didn't know its use to express causality.

I found this in a song by Stromae Pipi au lit . I am not sure what is "en"refering to. Is he dreaming about flies taking him away? or is it that because of this situation he sleeps so  deeply  that he doesn't notice that he has wet the bed.

J'suis pas bête, les profs aussi l'disent mais j'aime trop regarder les mouches voler-er-er 
J'aimerais que, comme elles mes ailes m'éloignent de la merde des fois 
J'en rêve si profondément que je me lève et vois

Que j'ai fait pipi au lit...

I believe in French they  are more explicit that in other languges by using "en". In Spanish we would only say "I dream so profoundly"

Thank you very much Sandra.

I was taught at school that "en"was a contraction for "de cela" ,where "de" can take the sense of "of" "from " or "about".

Even so I feel it is also  used in an "architectural" way  to fill in an almost ornamental  space in the sentence. That is why I like it-it feels  nicely expressive to me.

"De cela" looks a lot like "de eso", "de ello" in Spanish. It is easier for me to make sense of it when you explain it like this :) 

I'll give you a translation (a bit exaggerated) to help you understand because he is interlocking references ...

J'suis pas bête, les profs aussi l'disent mais j'aime trop regarder les mouches voler-er-er 
J'aimerais que, comme elles mes ailes m'éloignent de la merde des fois 
J'en rêve si profondément que je me lève et vois

Que j'ai fait pipi au lit...

I'm not stupid, that's what my teachers say but I like so much watching the flies fly. ("regarder les mouches voler" is an expression equivalent to "daydreaming")

I would like that, like them (the flies) my wings take me away from the shit (in general) sometimes.

I dream of it so deeply that I wake up and see ....

Here, "en" refers to the act of flying away from his "shitty life" and not to the flies. I think you got confused because usually we refer to a noun and he is talking about the flies, then referring to them (elles) to get to the idea of having wings, but "en" apply to entire ideas and not just a word.

Dear George,

That is also the feeling I had wen reading the question...

But when I looked into example to find  the "en" utility I figured out that if we remove it from a sentence, the meaning will definitively change...

So I agree it's very nice to hear and ornamental, but not a "fill in" word  for me :)

Thank you Sandra. I enjoyed discovering new things in this song. I have translated a few songs by Stromae but I know that I can't fully understand them. It is a fun way to learn new words and helps with the pronunciation because I try to sing them too :)

Hi everybody. ;-)

Yes, « en » can be used with others verbs.


Here some examples with others conjugations :

( Verb : vouloir / to want )

- Il aime l'argent, il en veut toujours plus.

( He likes money, he wants more yet. )

( Verb : vouloir, according to another specific usage in a fixed expression )

- Vous êtes méchant, je vous déteste et je vous en veux !

( You are bad, I dislike you and I am angry against you! )

[ « en vouloir à quelqu'un» means : « to be angry against somebody ». This usage is very current in French ]

( Verb : rechercher / looking for )

- Nous avons rencontré un problème et nous en recherchons l'origine.

( We have a problem and we are looking for the origin. )

( Verb : croire / to believe )

- Tu voudrais voler comme un oiseau, mais est-ce que tu t'en crois capable ?

( You want to fly like a bird, but do you believe that you are able? )

( Verb : demander / to ask )

- Ils ont trop mangé de riz, par conséquent, ils n'en demanderont plus.

( They ate a lot of rice, consequently, they don't ask it anymore. )

( Verb : connaitre / to know )

- Cet homme est malade, cependant, les médecins n'en connaissent pas la cause.

( This man is sick, however, doctors don't know the cause. )

( Verb : savoir / to know )

Speaker 1 : -- Est-ce que tu sais si les marchandises sont arrivées ?

Speaker 2 : -- Non, je n'en sais rien...

( Speaker 1 : -- Do you know if goods are arrived ? )

( Speaker 2 : -- No, I don't know. )

( Verb : penser / to think )

- Je ne dis rien mais je n'en pense pas moins.

( I say nothing but I don't think less. )

( Verb : avoir / to have )

- Arrête la voiture ! Tu roules trop vite. J'en ai mal au coeur...

( Stop the car ! You drive too fast. My heart is sick. [ « I am going to vomite » ] )

( Verb : garder / to keep )

- J'ai adoré ce concert. J'en ai gardé un excellent souvenir.

( I loved this concert. I kept an excellent remember about it. )


Finally, even if Sandra gives interesting informations about the causality ( Great thanks for her ! ), here a simple method to use and understand easier « en », according to this usage :

If «  en » is present like this « J'en rêve encore.», it's because the referent subject is surely used before in another sentence.

For instance :

La nuit dernière, j'ai rêvé à propos d'une jolie fille. Ce matin j'en rêve encore.

( The last night, I dreamed about a pretty girl. This morning, I am dreaming yet. )

So, the question is : I dreamed about what/who?

The answer is : « the pretty girl. »

Consequently « the pretty girl » becomes « en » in the second sentence part.

In fact, with another example, if I am writing : « J'en mange encore » ( I am eating yet. ) whitout an introduting sentence. We know that « I am eating something » but, we don't know what I am eating.

So, « en » is inevitably a reference about a previous event/thing/situation/subject.


Just for memory : it's the same about « y ».

1 - « Il y retourne ».( He goes yet. ) Ok, but, where he goes yet ? It's impossible to know it...

2 - « Il est allé à la fête foraine et il y retourne. ( He went to the fun fair and he goes yet. )

Ok, but, where he goes yet ? To the fun fair.


That is very good Steve.

I am not sure how you are using "yet" though. Is English your first language?

Hi George.

No, English tongue isn't my native language. Je suis français.

It's possible that my usage of « yet » is a bit strange when I am writing in English, because, I know to speak and write in English since eight months only. Anyway, I try to explain in English respecting all rules that I think to master. By advance, I apologise if my English writing is imperfect. I am learning yet... ;-)

About « yet » in French, its usage is melted between « toujours » and « encore » even if these two words have each a proper sense according to others usages.

Yes "yet" is a bit of a difficult word. You should try to learn it correctly though because it is one of the basic words in English.

If it is used incorrectly it can give the sentence a confusing meaning.

In your sentence "He went to the fun fair and he goes yet." you could say "He went to the fun fair and he still goes there"

Strangely enough , your translation would have been correct in very old English and maybe even in some modern versions ;)

PS another way "yet" can be used is to mean " Et pourtant" ("And yet....")

Thank you very much Stevo. I am very happy with all these examples. I will keep them as study material.


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